Monday, 14 May 2012

NFC: ‘Whistleblower’ reveals himself

An ex-bank employee claims he has been 'illegally' and unfairly harassed by the authorities after allegations that he leaked account details of NFCorp directors.


PETALING JAYA: A former bank employee, believed to be a key whistleblower in the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) scandal, revealed himself today at the PKR headquarters, claiming that he has been “illegally” and unfairly harassed by the authorities for the past one month.

Johari Mohamad (picture left), who worked in the Jinjang Public Bank branch, has even quit his job of 17 years as a clerk in the credit department of the bank after the immense pressure of being investigated internally and by Bank Negara.

He is being accused of allegedly leaking out information related to NFCorp to an anauthorised third party.

“On April 24, 2012, I received a letter from my employer accusing me of breaching guidelines and discipline at the workplace following a complaint by [NFCorp chairman] Mohamad Salleh Ismail,” Johari said at a press conference with his legal representative, PKR vice-president N Surendran and PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli.

Johari is being investigated under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act ( BAFIA) 1989, which PKR said was a draconian legislation that could land Johari a five-year prison term and up to RM5 million in fines.

“I have gone through a domestic inquiry. Following the pressure at the workplace and various actions taken against me, I have made the decision to quit my job on May 2,” Johari said.
Johari was today called to Bank Negara for his statement to be taken in an official criminal investigation against him under the BAFIA.

Said Rafizi: “This, I believe, may be the first case of prosecuting a whistleblower in Malaysia.”

“I’m disappointed with Mohamad Salleh for hunting down innocent people suspected of helping expose the NFCorp s
candal. He pursued this to the point where action is being taken against Johari,” he said.

“Enough is enough. It’s immoral to go after the people who have done the right thing. Stop going after Johari or anyone else. Drop the investigations immediately,” he said
‘Vengeful rampage’

Johari is accused of leaking information from the accounts of Mohamad Salleh, Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, National Meat and Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd and NFC Sdn Bhd.

Johari, said Rafizi, was being accused of leaking information on the buying of the luxury property at KL Eco City by NFC Sdn Bhd.

However, throughout the press conference, Johari refused to confirm or deny if he had really leaked the information as charged, according to Public Bank inquiry and the Bank Negara investigations.

Asked if Johari is guilty of the accusations and was really a whistleblower, the PKR leaders said that Johari cannot comment on that as it may jeopardise and prejudice his court case.

Rafizi also said that former Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil would have been fully aware of this “vengeful rampage”.

“All this vendetta would have surely have been discussed and got the blessings of Shahrizat. She is fully aware that her family is going on a rampage,” Rafizi said.

“He [Mohamad Salleh] lied about the number of cows, he lied about the condominiums and now he lies about not going on a vendetta against those he thinks are involved.
“Does he not realise he’s putting Umno in a bad light? I’m sure Umno members are sick of the selfish actions of that family, especially with the general election nearing. Politically, it’s scoring points for Pakatan Rakyat

‘Obscene act’

“Mohamad also lied to the court. He said that he was supposed to go for the haj but during those specific days, he was pressuring for action against Johari. That’s why I’m angry. For him to take the moral high ground and to take legal action against Johari right now just stinks…

“If Mohamad Salleh is not warned, he will continue with his vendetta and start prosecuting everybody. He will make use of government institutions to punish those he believed helped expose the NFCorp case.

Meanwhile, Surendran said this was an “obscene” act by the authorities to go after Johari, and many of its procedures appears to be “illegal”.

“Whether he [Johari] is the person or not… how can you try to criminalise a public-spirited and civic-minded act that should be praised and [the person] awarded with a medal for revealing information on huge misappropriation of public funds?”

Surendran also said the manner in which Johari was grilled for about a month by his own bank, with the “direct” involvement of Bank Negara, before he was brought to a internal inquiry was “illegal”.

He claimed that the notice from Bank Negara seeking for him to appear today as a suspect is also illegal as it does not state clearly what Johari is being accused of.

As the case will fall under the Attorney-General, Surendran also said it is unlikely that action against Johari would be fair. “We all know [the A-G] is nothing more than an apparatus of the BN government. This is
basically a cover-up.”

On BAFIA, Surendran said: “It is a draconian act that forces Johari to answer questions even if it incriminates himself or others. This goes against principles of criminal law and goes against the Criminal Procedure Code. This is unconstitutional and we will be challenging it.”

Asked if the call to stop investigations would jeopardise public confidence in banking institutions, Rafizi said that banking and finance legislations in other countries were not as draconian.

“From the way I look at it, BAFIA was written to protect the robber and the corrupt. What kind of Act is this? I admit I initially didn’t know how bad BAFIA was, but now I realise, even if the Agong had revealed something, he would go to jail. It is extremely biased, and is against public interest.

“The legislations just don’t match. The Anti-Money Laundering Act compels any bank personnel, as they go through the records, to tell the bank if the client is suspected of something. We have the Whistleblower Protection Act but that doesn’t stop them from using the BAFIA. We started off with NFCorp, but now we are looking at how our legislations are flawed.”

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